As the Russia-Ukraine war continues unabated and Nigeria’s abstaining from voting to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Nigerian Government says its relations with both countries remain intact.
To this end, the Buhari administration said it is willing to take up Russia’s offer to absorb Nigerian students willing to continue their education there.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Gabriel Aduda, stated the government’s position on Thursday at the Ministerial State House Media briefing, the 36th in the series, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Concerning Russia offering admission to Nigerians to study in their universities, one thing we need to understand is that for now, our relations with both Russia and Ukraine are absolutely intact.
“We have very good diplomatic relations with Ukraine; we have very good diplomatic relations with Russia and should that offer be put on the table, and we will have students that desire to continue, why not? ’’ he said.
Persecondnews recalls that Nigeria had said it did not regret abstaining from voting to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over allegations of gross human rights violations in Ukraine.
Also, Russia had warned countries at the UN that a `Yes’ vote or abstention on a U.S. push to suspend the country from the Human Rights Council will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties.
Aduda said Nigerian students whose educational programmes were interrupted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict would continue their studies online and physically in other foreign universities that have offered admission to students who wish to continue elsewhere.
“Apart from universities that have begun virtual classes since the conflict broke out, other universities in neighbouring countries (which offer similar curricula to Ukraine) have offered Nigerian students admission to complete their programmes.
According to him, admission processing must be done through the Nigerian Missions as this would be the surest way to confirm that interested students were previously enrolled in various programmes in Ukraine.
“Some universities have continued their classes online. But also, some universities in neighbouring countries such as Romania have reached out to us to offer placement to our students who want to continue their studies physically.
“However, all processing must be done through the Nigerian Missions and that is the only way these nations can know that the students were in Ukraine.
“Education desks are being set up in our missions and the government is happy to help get them (students) get placement in universities that have offered to help.
“The forms will be available to students. A lot of students are being taken in. In Romania some universities have opened their hostels to Nigerian students fleeing the war to continue their studies,’’ Aduda told journalists.
On whether Nigeria regrets abstaining from voting against or for Russia, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, said: “On the issue of the UN resolution, any regrets? No regrets whatsoever about what happened. Because we believed that we voted rightly at the time that we did.
“But again, as regards the finer details you will get to hear from our permanent representatives. Who was there when it happened ?”
Restating Aduda’s position, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, said there was no reason to regret the decision on Russia.
“There are several choices to be made. One choice will be not to even vote at all and Nigeria has never refused to vote, we always want people to know where we stand on any matter.
“Because our position is that as a country that is a leader on the continent and in the world, no matter how difficult it is, our viewers must be heard,’’ he said.
According to him, as far as Nigeria is concerned, it was an allegation against Russia, and an investigation of human rights abuse is ongoing.
“Nigeria felt the outcome should have been awaited before the vote. So long as it is a member of the UN General Assembly, there is a provision for that via the Assembly and Nigeria is convinced an ongoing process to know whether that is true or not.
“You don’t want me to simply follow anything anybody says because it is Russia …we have to be very clear and I think this is why Nigeria took a position and we voted for Nigeria’s reasons, not because of anybody’s pressure,’’ Muhammad-Bande explained.